Great Audience Present at Opening of Alhambra Theater
Magnificent Building Crowded at the Benefit Concert for the Tabernacle Choir—Music Delights and Beautiful Auditorium Pleases Thousands—Governor Wm. Spry, Apostle James E. Talmage and Rev. J. E. Carver Have Words of Praise—Choir and Orchestra Achieve a Brilliant Success.
The new Alhambra theatre — commodious and comfortable to a degree, regal in its appointments and beautiful almost beyond description—was formally opened to the public last night and the first paragraph concerning the momentous occasion would not be complete without mention of the owners, Charles Zeimer Albert Scowcroft and H. A. Sims; the architects, S. A Shreeve and D. Leo Madsen and the builder, William A Larkins, for the event was a triumph for each one.
To the Ogden Tabernacle choir, under the direction of Professor Joseph Ballantyne, assisted by the enlarged American theatre orchestra and soloists, under the direction of Professor John J. McClellan; Willard Welhe, violinist, and Horace S. Ensign, baritone, was given the honor of furnishing the opening program and the enthusiastic plaudits of more than 2000 people which followed the rendition of each song or instrumental number, was convincing proof that the honor was well placed.
Much to Admire.
The large crowd that passed through the wide main entrance and divided its silent and spoken admiration between the big mirrors empaneled in both sides of the spacious tiled lobby and an immense floral piece, which was placed in a prominent position until it reached the entrances to the different parts of the auditorium. The floral piece was the gift of William A Larkins to the Alhambra Theatrical company, and, in form, was emblematic of success.
Passing down the heavily matted aisles of the lower floor of the auditorium and up the wide stairways, similarly furnished, to the balcony until a clear view of the immensity and beauty of the theatre could be had, admiration changed to surprise and then to wonderment as the fact that the magnificent picture was a reality came to all who were privileged to view it.
The soft glow of incandescent lights concealed at the sides and front of the lofty art ceiling by a heavy cornice and under the entire surface of the ceiling by indirect fixtures, set off the decorative scheme of the auditorium with splendid effect, with the beautiful mural paintings, representing song, drama, the dance and music, being especially pleasing.
These attractions were admired and unrestrainedly commented upon in terms of high praise until 8:20 o'clock, when the large asbestos curtain was lifted and, for the time being, attention was diverted to the stage, where the Ogden Tabernacle choir—the ladies dressed in white and the men in black—and the enlarged American Theatre orchestra created a fine appearance. This was an irresistible signal for prolonged applause and, when it was concluded. Rev. John Edward Carver, as master of ceremonies, took the center of the stage to make the opening address.
Rev. J. E. Carver Speaks.
The address, though brief, was masterly and in it the speaker defined the words theatre and drama, told of their place in the life of man in ages past and of the present.
"The actors of the old days," he said in conclusion, "were the politicians and the statesmen. It is, therefore, fitting on this occasion to have a few words from one of the greatest politicians and statesman of our state and the west and I take great pleasure in introducing Governor William Spry."
At the appearance of the state's chief executive, the members of the big choir and orchestra arose to their feet and enthusiastic applause came from all parts of the house. After bowing his acknowledgments for the respect shown him, the governor made a brief talk, which was broken in upon with frequent applause. In part, he said:
"It is not my desire to take up your time with a lengthy speech nor delay the musical treat that I know is in store for you, but I came here to night to congratulate Ogden on the way its people do things. My desire is to congratulate you people of Ogden on this magnificent theatre, which is the finest that I have seen in all my travels throughout America, and even numbering among your citizens such men as Mr. Zeimer and Mr. Scowcroft, who came to Salt Lake City several years ago and gave to us a taste of the veritable feast they have now given you. I wish more men like them would come down to Salt Lake to show us how to do things."
"My admiration is strong for the business men of Ogden, because they can make money, and because they spend it in Ogden. The street on which this building is erected, is, I believe, only about three years old and yet they had erected buildings on it that would do credit to Broadway, New York. This is due to a love of their home town and a deep confidence in its future."
"I also wish to congratulate Ogden on its splendid choir, which has fit tingly been given the honor of furnishing the opening program in this theatre. In face the more one visits Ogden, the greater is the desire to come here and live and the spirit of this city and its people will some day cause its population to exceed that of the 'little town on the south.' A great future for Ogden is assured and, with a standard such as has been set in this theatre, it will be a thing of beauty and a joy forever."
Later in the evening, Apostle James E. Talmage was introduced by Rev. Carver and gave a brief talk as one of the representatives of the first presidency of the Mormon church, of which religious body the Ogden Tabernacle choir is a part. The other representatives of the first presidency who occupied loggia seats as guests of the theatre management, were Apostles Orson F. Whitney, George F. Richards and David 0. McKay.
Apostle J. E. Talmage Praises.
In his talk, Apostle Talmage stated that he felt it an honor to be present on such a momentous occasion, and a greater one to address the splendid audience that had gathered to hear the opening program He told of the purpose of the drama and music, stating that the program which had been arranged for the event was a highly appropriate one and hoped that it would have a lasting influence or good. It was composed of the music of masters and was interpreted by masters, he said, and he trusted that the enterprise of the Ogden choir which was to represent Utah at the California expositions, would be successful, enjoyable and of lasting fame.
The present age, he continued, was one of luxury, the luxury of achievement and, as far as he had seen, its spirit was no better expressed than in the Alhambra theatre, in which the forces of nature, brought under the control of master hands, were all in wonderful evidence. In conclusion, he congratulated the owners of the playhouse. those who had assisted in its construction and the people of Ogden, on its having been erected here.
Of the brilliant concert, it may be said that no more enjoyable event of the kind has ever been given in the city, with Directors Joseph Ballantyne and Johu J. McClellan sharing honors with their respective musical organizations and the soloists, Messrs. Willard E. Welhe and Horace S. Ensign.
The work of the Tabernacle choir was a revelation to many in the audience, the numbers programed showing that the chorus was entirely at home in either sacred, temperamental or opera numbers. In phrasing, quality of tone, balance of parts, enunciation, attack and release, and interpretation, the local singers were never heard to better advantage and in every number they followed the baton of Professor Ballantyne as a single unit. A feature of the singing most favorably commented upon was the clearness of enunciation, almost every word in the heavy dramatic numbers or the finer temperamental ones, being heard in every part of the auditorium, the perfect acoustics of the building assisting to make this possible.
The numbers given by the choir were:
"The Soldiers' Chorus" (Faust), Gounod; "Sweet and Low," Barnby; "The Rosary," Nevin, "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyre," old English, "The Lord Now Victorious (Gloria Rusticana), Mascagni; "Sleep Gentle Lady," Sir H. R Bishop, and "Hymn to Music," Buck. Each number was received with enthusiastic applause, to which the director was required to respond several times with bows, encores not being permissible on account of the length of the program.
Director J. J.McClellan of the orchestra was called upon for similar responses following the rendition of each of the orchestral numbers.
It is several years since Ogden music lovers, in so large a number, have had the pleasure of listening to a symphony orchestra and the work of the enlarged American theatre concert orchestra made up to a degree the regret that was felt when it was learned that the big Alhambra pipe organ could not be completely installed for the opening event.
The orchestra opened the musical program with the overture from "William Tell'' and before it got well into the first movement, the audience was assured that its evening was to be well spent. The soloists in this number were Oge Jorgenson, cello; Anton Kellerstterger, oboe; Alfred Slack, flute; and Torval Jorgenson acted as concertmeister. Their tone coloring was as near perfect in quality as the most critical ear could wish and their blending with the orchestra, under masterly direction, was above criticism. In its completeness the number was splendidly handled and the same could be said of the "La Feria" suite—Allegro, Allegretto and Valse Espagnol by Lacome, and the "Verdi" program, which followed later.
In the "Allegretto" portion of the "La Feria- suite, Alfred Slack played the flute solo with brilliant effect. The Verdi program included the "Anvil Chorus- from "Il Trovatore"; the quartet from "Rigoletto" and the "Miserere" (prison scene) from "Il Trovatore." In these numbers the soloists were E. Zabriskie, clarinet; and Carl Mollerup. cornet. The playing of the latter, combined with that of the orchestra, was so enthusiastically received that the number was finally repeated as an encore.
Prof. Willard E. Welhe, whom there is no greater violinist in the west, was heard in four numbers and the audience would fain have had more if it had been permissible.
The numbers were "Reverie" by Viextemps; "Evening Song," and "Traumerel" by Schumann; and "Cradle Song" by Sauret. Though in each one there are many technical difficulties to be mastered, but their principal charm is a melody. They were well chosen to try out the acoustic properties of the theatre to the finest degree and the structure stood the test in a remarkable manner, even the faintest pianissimo tones being heard to advantage in all parts of the building. Prof. Welhe was cordially welcomed when he appeared on the stage for the first number and in the charm of his masterly playing that of the theatre itself was probably more deeply felt that any other time during the evening. Each of the solos was followed by prolonged applause.
Horace S. Ensign Encore.
The singing of Horace S. Ensign, Utah's favorite baritone, called for the breaking of the "no encore" rule, and after answering four recalls with bows, following a magnificent rendition of Graniers "Hosanna," he responded to the fifth call by singing "Where the River Shannon Flows," in honor of the day. His other programmed number was "Gypsy Love Song," by Victor Herbert, and this was also finely sung and well received.
In the choral numbers that were sung, the orchestra with Sam F. Whitaker at the organ and Sammie Williams at the piano, gave splendid accompaniments.
The audience that attended the big event last night was an especially brilliant one, many of the most prominent people of the city and state being numbered in it.
Governor William Spry and party occupied seats in one of the loges on the main floor, and with the four apostles of the Mormon church previously mentioned, and their wives were guests of the owners of the theatre. In the governor's party were Mrs. Spry, Mr. and Mrs. D. S. Spencer, Mr. and Mrs. J. G. McDonald, and Mr. and Mrs. 0. H. Hewlett of Salt Lake City, and Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Irvine of Provo.
The boxes in the balcony were occupied by Mr. said Mrs. A. S. Shreeve, Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Madsen. Mr. and Mrs. M. S. Browning, and guests, Mr. and Mrs. Willard Scowcroft and guests, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gentsch and guests, Mr. and Mrs. Heber Scowcroft and guests, Mr. and Mrs. T. H. Carr and guests, Mr. and Mrs. LeRoy Eccles and guests, W. A. Larkins and guests, members of the D. H. Peery family and guests, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Ford of Salt Lake City and guests, and the city commissioners and their wives.
Great Audience Present at Opening of Alhambra Theater